I Can’t Type and Play at the Same Time

by admin on May 17, 2011

The other day I was at work – well they pay me so I have to show up – and I was typing when I realized my fingers were hurting. More specifically the fingers on my left hand. It was actually a rather lovely feeling. It made me realize that my hard work was having an impact. Although not in quite the way I was expecting. At least not yet.

You see, I’m learning to play the ukulele. It’s fun. I’ve never played a musical instrument before so this is the first time I’ve really put any time/energy/thought/effort into learning one (OK, there was the time when I was ten and I was trying to learn the viola but it’s a really long violin and I had short arms so that was never going to work, plus you try walking home when you live in one a housing project in one of the toughest parts of the East End of London not only wearing a school uniform but also carrying a viola and see how long you’ll last). Anyway, the sore fingers were from pressing down on the strings. All of a sudden the tips of my fingers were tingling from the effort.

It’s so fascinating to try something new like this, so completely different to anything you’ve done before. I grew up listening to rock music, going to see some of the great guitar players of the world play live, everyone from Jimmy Page to Richard Thompson, Ry Cooder and Pete Townsend, and this was the first time I truly understood how amazing they are. The ability to move your fingers that fast and that precisely, not just hitting notes but putting passion and feeling into them, is extraordinary. But it’s only when you try it yourself, however stumbling and bumbling that you really get a good appreciation for what they do.

It’s unlikely I’m going to be joining the Pantheon of Rock Gods anytime soon. There aren’t too many ukulele players up there – at least not yet. But it’s fun to learn something new, to gain a deeper appreciation for something familiar, to think about how I can grow and develop.

Of course the learning curve is steep. And not just in terms of playing. I grew up calling it the you-kelele. I was told in no uncertain terms the other day its pronounced ooh-kelele.

I have so much to learn. But that’s what is fun about life. The fact that you never stop learning, that there are always challenges, always new things to try and wrap your brain around, whether it’s the latest version of  “iWhatever” or a musical instrument. That everything around you is in a constant state of change, and that you are able to change and grow with it. You don’t have to stop and keep doing the same old things because that’s what you have always done. You don’t have to assume that the person you are today is the person you will always be.

You can change. You can grow. You can try different things. You can learn new things. That doesn’t mean you abandon who you are or what you have always loved. It just means trying out new things, new ideas, new ways of seeing the world.

Ain’t that fun!


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